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Bloom Brothers Department Stores were located in Franklin County and Fulton County, Pennsylvania, from their founding as Conn and Bloom Dry Goods in April, 1897, until the closing of the last store in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in March, 1944.

The company was founded in 1897 in Chambersburg as Conn and Bloom Dry Goods[1] by first cousins Simon Conn (1860-1932) and Benjamin Bloom (1859-1904), whose families had first emigrated from the former East Prussia in the 1830s.[2] A second Conn and Bloom store succeeded the first in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania (1898-99),[3] but did not flourish; a third, which doubled as a grocery store for its remote mountain community, was started in the Path Valley hamlet of Dry Run, Pennsylvania, northwest of Chambersburg, at the same time as the Waynesboro store,[3] and a fourth began and ended its existence during the same week of April, 1899, in the Fulton County hamlet of Burnt Cabins, Pennsylvania, for lack of square footage.[4] Additional stores began operations in 1905 in East Baltimore, Maryland, under Morris H. B. Bloom (1838-1925), the Bloom brothers' father, but closed in the fall of 1906 when the elder Bloom's younger brother took sick in South Africa.[5][6]

In March, 1900, with the extended families of both Simon Conn and Benjamin Bloom now in residence in Franklin and Fulton counties, the partnership between the Conns and Blooms was dissolved, allowing each family to found its own dry goods company. With one Bloom brother, Jacob (1868-1898), already a casualty of tuberculosis,[7] eldest brother Benjamin Bloom founded Bloom Brothers Department Stores in partnership with his next oldest surviving brother, Isaac H. Bloom (1862-1955), [8][9] and soon Eli F. Bloom (1870-1941) and M. Harry Bloom (1880-1969) assumed leadership positions in the expanding company as treasurer and store manager, respectively, after clerking for a time under their older brothers.[10] Bloom Brothers began its existence at the former Conn and Bloom location at 84 South Main Street on the northeast corner of Main and Queen Streets in Chambersburg and, in March 1901, opened a second store in the former Old City Hall on Waynesboro's Town Square.[11]

Benjamin Bloom died of tuberculosis in March 1904 at the age of 35,[12] but his brother Isaac took up leadership of the now widely known stores in Chambersburg and Waynesboro as chief executive and principal buyer, advertising "15% to 25% lower prices than other stores" in the Chambersburg Valley Spirit and the Waynesboro Herald. Having grown too large for its inaugural space, the Chambersburg store moved to its second location on South Main Street in April, 1903, at 83 South Main on the northwest corner of Main and Queen across from its previous location.[13] The second and third floors were soon renovated and the company began its tradition of featuring seven departments: dry goods, men's furnishings (including shoes), millinery, clothing, china, household furnishings, and carpets.[14]

Thanks to enthusiastic and well-written advertising campaigns, Bloom Brothers stores flourished in Chambersburg and Waynesboro, and the Waynesboro store, having outgrown the Old Town Hall, moved to its permanent location at 25 West Main Street in Waynesboro in March, 1903.[15]

In 1905, Bloom Brothers stores were opened by the Bloom brothers' father, Morris, at 32 and 100 Exeter Street in East Baltimore, Maryland,[16] but their existence was cut short by the unexpected illness and death of Morris's brother, Benjamin J. Bloom (1845-1906), in Boksburg, South Africa.[17]

The Chambersburg store was the largest of its kind in Chambersburg borough,[18] and both stores were the first in the county to employ an overhead cash system.[19] Later configurations of the stores omitted household furniture, carpeting, and china departments.[20]

While the Waynesboro store maintained its second location at 25 West Main (called 49 West Main in its final years)[21] from March 1903 until its closing during the Great Depression in 1931,[18] the Chambersburg store had four locations, moving in 1913 back across South Main Street to the Reisher Building at 74 South Main Street.[18] In 1939, it moved a last time to the newer Keefer building at 100 South Main.[18] With consumer goods growing scarce as the US fought World War II and with the stores' heir apparent, Ens. D. Dudley Bloom, USN, 21, preparing to fight the Japanese in the southwest Pacific, Bloom Brothers was forced to close in March, 1944.[18]

An office building associated with the stores at 17 West Main in Waynesboro, The Bloom Building, that had been carved out of the western half of the National Hotel, survived intact until the bank repurchased it in December, 1972, to make room for its annex.[22]

After dividing his time between managing the stores and serving from 1914 to 1925 as vice-president and director of the Waynesboro Trust Company,[23] Isaac H. Bloom founded the Bloom Building and Loan Association, a savings bank that operated from a suite in the Equitable Building in Baltimore until 1928 and from storefronts on the city's North Avenue from 1929 until its closing at his death in 1955.[24]

References

  1. ^ Chambersburg (PA) Valley Spirit, April 28, 1897, p8.
  2. ^ Sheriff & Taylor’s Baltimore city directory for 1884-85. Harrisburg: Patriot Publishing Co.
  3. ^ a b Chambersburg (PA) Valley Spirit, May 4, 1898, p4.
  4. ^ Chambersburg (PA) Valley Spirit, April 19, 1899, p5.
  5. ^ Sheriff & Taylor’s Baltimore city directory for 1906-08. Harrisburg: Patriot Publishing Co.
  6. ^ Internet, http://www.national.archsrch.gov.za, 1906.
  7. ^ Chambersburg (PA) Franklin Repository, February 9, 1898, p1.
  8. ^ Chambersburg (PA) Valley Spirit, February 22, 1900
  9. ^ Chambersburg (PA) Valley Spirit, March 9, 1900, p4.
  10. ^ Chambersburg (PA) Public Opinion, February 2, 1944, p1.
  11. ^ Waynesboro (PA) Blue Ridge Zephyr, March 21, 1901, p1.
  12. ^ Chambersburg (PA) Public Opinion, March 7, 1904, p4.
  13. ^ Chambersburg (PA) Public Opinion, March 20, 1903, p3.
  14. ^ Chambersburg (PA) Public Opinion, April 1, 1903, p3.
  15. ^ Besore, Carl V., and Robert L. Ringer. "The Sherman Building." A Reflection on the History of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and vicinity, 3 vols. Waynesboro, 1994-96.
  16. ^ Sheriff & Taylor’s Baltimore city directory for 1904-05. Harrisburg: Patriot Publishing Co.
  17. ^ Internet, http://www.national.archsrch.gov.za, 1906.
  18. ^ a b c d e Chambersburg (PA) Public Opinion, February 2, 1944, p1.
  19. ^ Besore, Carl V., and Robert L. Ringer. "The Sherman Building." A Reflection on the History of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and vicinity, 3 vols. Waynesboro, 1994-96.
  20. ^ Besore, Carl V., and Robert L. Ringer. "The Sherman Building." A Reflection on the History of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and vicinity, 3 vols. Waynesboro, 1994-96.
  21. ^ Waynesboro (PA) Evening Herald, September 4, 1930.
  22. ^ Besore, Carl V., and Robert L. Ringer. "The Sherman Building." A Reflection on the History of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and vicinity, 3 vols. Waynesboro, 1994-96.
  23. ^ Proceedings of the Franklin County Historical Society at Kittochtinny, 1985, pp227-229.
  24. ^ Chambersburg (PA) Public Opinion, January 13, 1969.
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